Lacken National School in Blessington, Wicklow, has come under fire after a document outlining its Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme emerged online. The letter was sent to students’ parents on April 5, 2022, and declared that teachers would “not cover topics such as contraception and same sex friendships”.
The document issued from the school also states that “The programme is taught within the ethos of the school and contemporary issues/topics are dealt with by the teacher at a level appropriate to the age and stage of development of pupils within a moral and spiritual framework.”
1. Education Equality is appalled at exclusion of “same sex friendships” and contraception from relationships & sexuality education at Lacken NS, Blessington, Co Wicklow. Parents had previously requested that RSE “should be free from the influence of a religious ethos” pic.twitter.com/OKtj6eFByX
— Education Equality (@edu_equal) April 25, 2022
This reference to spirituality comes despite parents writing to the Wicklow school’s principal and board of management in June 2021, opposing the introduction of the Catholic ‘Flourish’ RSE programme, as they expressed it was “discriminatory to LGBTQ+ children and families”.
An education spokesperson for People Before Profit, Paul Murphy TD, has condemned management at the Wicklow School, stating: “It is totally unacceptable that any school discriminates against LGBTQ+ children and families. Sex education should be objective and fact-based and must not be influenced by any religious ethos.
“Lacken school management is operating a discriminatory relationships and sex education programme in defiance of the wishes of parents. The letter to parents explicitly states that teachers will not deal with contraception or ‘same sex friendships’! This is not acceptable and the Minister must act to ensure this discrimination at Lacken National School is ended immediately,” he continues.
Mr Murphy also called upon the Irish Government to “implement the Provision of Objective Sex Education Bill which was agreed at Second Stage unanimously in 2018, but which has been languishing in Committee ever since.
“This would ensure the provision of appropriate objective relationships and sex education in all schools without interference from religious ethos,” he concludes.
The National LGBT Federation also commented on the matter, declaring Lacken National School’s programme “an appalling response to parents calls for inclusive, fact-based RSE.”
GCN’s governing body added that: “The demeaning reference to our relationships is also unacceptable – relationships affirmed as equal by the people of Wicklow & Ireland.”
An appalling response to parents calls for inclusive, fact-based RSE.
The demeaning reference to our relationships is also unacceptable – relationships affirmed as equal by the people of Wicklow & Ireland.
— NXF (@nxfie) April 26, 2022
The Department of Education has been called upon for a response but has yet to comment.
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